When I was looking at this famous quotation displayed at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, I got an idea for the title of my trip report about my first flight with Continental airlines. It was very memorable, both because of good service and the long delay.
CO5 departing LHR
at 10:45 a.m. arriving IAH
at 4:10 p.m.
Boeing 777-200, ship #4
BusinessFirst, seat 9 A
I arrived at London Heathrow Terminal 4 at around eight in the morning; our flight was scheduled to depart at 10:45. I did not check-in online so I proceed to one of the self check-in machines at the BusinessFirst check-in area. I had to answer some questions and scan my passport, and then a message appeared that a Continental representative was needed to complete my check-in. The agent closest to me approached and swiped her ID
card through the machine, checked my information and soon after my boarding pass was printed. Then you have to see another agent before the drop off. He checked my ESTA and asked some regular questions about my luggage. I got an I-SEC sticker on my passport, dropped-off my suitcase and went to grab some breakfast.
After that I went outside for some last fresh air before the flight and saw that our aircraft has arrived from IAH
It was ship #4 on today's flight. The aircraft did a round trip to NRT
before going to LHR
to pick us up. Continental website is great as you can check the flight status, standby and upgrade list and also where your aircraft has been in the past few days.
I went back inside and through security. I wanted to check out the lounge but I had no idea which one Continental uses and I forgot to ask at check-in. So after checking all the wrong lounges I finally arrived to the Sky Team lounge near gate 10.
I only had about 20 minutes to spend in the lounge, so I grabbed a seat near the window to watch some planes landing on runway 27L.
A Kuwait airlines flight was being prepared to depart just in front of my table.
I just had one quick drink and then went back to our gate where boarding was scheduled to start at 9:55.
The gate area was filling up with people. The flight was sold out in BusinessFirst and there were only a few open seats in economy the last time I checked.
I like the huge engines on the 777.
At around 10, when boarding was about to start, there was a message made by the gate agents, that the delay in boarding was due to a minor technical issue onboard the aircraft and that boarding should start shortly. They also promised to keep us informed.
Around half past ten there was another message that they have not received any news and that there will be an update in 20 minutes. The same message was then repeated in 20 minutes. It was then obvious that we are going to have a delay but I wasn't too worried about it as I did not have any connecting flights. Until the next message around 11:15. It went something like this:
'This is an announcement for all passengers traveling on flight CO
5 to Houston. This flight is now delayed until 21:15 this evening.'
I did not even realize what that meant at first and most of my fellow passengers just sat in their chairs and looked in disbelieve . There was a further announcement that we will be given food vouchers for 15 GBP and that all BusinessFirst passengers should report at gate X and all economy class passengers should report to gate Y (I do not remember the numbers). The gate for BusinessFirst passengers then changed to gate 6 where a long line formed.
I decided to wait for the line to get shorter and watch the planes at LHR
slowly realizing that by the time I was supposed to arrive to Houston I will still be waiting at Heathrow.. About half an hour after the message about our delay I noticed our aircraft being towed away from the gate to a new position.
A member of the ground staff was giving out papers about our rights in case of a delayed/cancelled flight. When there were only a couple passengers waiting in the line I decided to join them and soon a gate agent was available. I gave her my passport and boarding pass and she started typing on her computer and soon my food voucher was printed. She also asked if I want a free phone call. I asked her about the new time of departure and she replied that it was going to be at 21:15 and that boarding should start at around eight or half past eight.
Nothing new on the screens so I decided to use my voucher go to lunch and then back to the Sky Team lounge.
You can pay everything with the voucher except for alcoholic beverages. After my lunch I returned to the lounge and found out, where our plane was.
Well, at least I will be able to watch what was happening with it.
Since now the time was only around 13:00 and there were still more than eight hours until our new departure time I was looking at the entertainment options in the lounge. There was a round table in the middle of it with a lot of Playstation 3 games. First I tried to play Wall-E but I did not find it very amusing. The next game was a racing game and it was fun and it made the time go a little faster. After that I went around to check the food selection
I grabbed a snack and checked the internet.
Of course one of the websites I visited was Airliners.net and there was already a thread opened about our delay
I wrote a couple of post about our flight and I would like to thank everyone that commented that thread, it made the long waiting time go a lot faster
It was starting to get dark outside and I decided to go and walk around the terminal.
Our flight was now listed as ‘Delayed until 22:00’. In the lounge the status was still ‘Gate opened’.
This is the entrance to the lounge, where I spent almost my whole day. The staff at the front desk was really nice.
I went to check out the second floor of the lounge.
It was basically the same as the lower floor, except it was less crowded.
One of the positive sides of this long delay was that I was able to see the food offering in the lounge through the whole day. In the morning there were just a couple of cold plates, during the day sandwiches were added and later in the afternoon some hot food selections were offered.
Nothing new was happening with our plane.
I then checked the PS3 games again and found they had FIFA! I played a few matches and it helped the time go by faster.
Meanwhile the engine covers were closed on ship #4.
And there was an announcement made that the spare parts for our plane will arrive at 20:30 and that our departure is now planned for 22:30. I went outside for another tour of the terminal.
Jet Airways preparing for the return journey to Mumbai.
Back in the lounge, the screens on the second floor showed different information about our flight.
Meanwhile our plane was moved to a gate on the other side of the terminal.
Then the screens started changing. First the status was listed as ‘Estimated 21:00’. That change to ‘Estimated 21:10’ and after just a few seconds to ‘Estimated 21:15’ and it finally stopped at ‘Estimated 21:20’.
And then the status was listed as ‘Gate opened’ again. One of the passengers said that he was going to the gate as it said gate opened and his friend ironical answered that the gate was opened since 9:00 in the morning
Yes, this was not the case anymore.
A Continental B757 arrived (from EWR
I assumed) and parked next to our aircraft. I just walked around the lounge and watch out of the window for some time when a woman screamed ‘Boarding!!!’ Everyone started laughing and applauding, taking their stuff and going to the gate.
I thanked the staff in the lounge, there were all laughing and it seemed that they were happy for us (or maybe they had enough of us
When walking out of the lounge there was a message on the speakers inside the main terminal: ‘This is the last call for all passengers traveling on the 10:45 service to Houston.’
We just started laughing at that.
Well, if we have been waiting for 11 hours they will wait for us those five minutes it takes from the lounge to the gate.
Here is the 757.
And our B777-200
There was almost no line for boarding left and I was through the boarding pass and passport control quickly, finally making my way onboard.
The flight attendants were in a good mood. Drinks were offered and amenity kits were distributed.
A member of the ground staff came to every passenger and check if they would want 10.000 OnePass miles or a 300 USD voucher as compensation. I chose the voucher and gave my address to the agent.
The pilot came on and welcomed us onboard. ‘It looks like we are finally going to be on our way’ were his words. He also gave some information about the flight.
Is the ottoman in the window seats really that smaller than in the aisles? It did not bother me as I was able to sleep for quite some time during the flight.
The plane looked clean and fresh except for this thing at the top of the wall.
Doors were closed, pushback started shortly after. A quick taxi to the runway and we were finally on our way, almost exactly 12 hours late.
Well, one of the positive sides of this delay was that we were on a night flight from Europe to America. I do not think I will be doing that for a while.
The meal service started with warm nuts.
The table was set and some garlic bread was offered.
I started eating the salad when I remembered to take a picture
I did not make that mistake with the spicy chicken.
When the meal service was finished we were already over the Atlantic.
The flight was sold out in BusinessFirst, but because of the delay some passengers were obviously rebooked on other flight so in the after business cabin all the seats in the middle were unoccupied and a lot of window seats remained free as well.
I was getting really tired so I put my seat in to a lie-flat position and went to bed. The first time I woke up we were already over North America.
Our captain made another announcement. He predicted a smooth ride to Houston and advised us, that we will fly a little slower today. That was because immigration at IAH
only opens at 5:00 am and he thought that it would be better for us to wait on the plane for a little longer instead of waiting in the terminal.
I slept most of the flight, I did not even check the IFE except for the Airshow.
When we were getting near Houston the flight attendant came around and asked what we would like for lunch
It seemed strange as it was already morning in Europe and we were in the middle of the night according to Central USA time.
I passed on the lunch as I wasn’t hungry. Soon we started our approach into IAH
. There were a lot of T-storms in the area but our approach was not that bumpy.
We did have a great view on some amazing lightening strikes.
It was raining in Houston as you can see in this picture.
And finally! On the ground in Houston.
Thank you for flying Continental Airlines!
‘The local time in Houston is 4:10 am.’ We were scheduled to arrive at 4:10 pm so we were exactly 12 hours late.
We parked at the E gates and made our way to immigration, where we were greeted with the following sight.
Some people just stood in front of the bars, some sat on the floor, some went to the chairs in the other part of the room. What I was really surprised was how calm and relaxed everyone was. There was no shouting, anger from anyone (or at least I haven’t seen any of that). After half an hour two ground staff agents came around with a whole bunch of boarding passes and started calling. ‘Anyone going to Austin? Anyone going to Dallas? Anyone going to Buenos Aires?’ And so on. Around 5:10 the bars were opened and we made our way to the appropriate line. After waiting in the line for about 15 minutes it was my turn. I had a nice chat with the immigration officer about the football (soccer) world cup, the game between Slovenia and USA, USA defeat against Ghana, our progress in the Euro 2012 qualifiers, the canceled match between Italy and Serbia. After that I went to collect my bags and soon I was on my way to the inter-terminal train.
Two stops and I was at the Marriot IAH
Hotel. I called them from Heathrow to inform them about the late arrival and they already checked us in.
I arrived to the room at around 6:00 am and went to get some more sleep and started my day at around 10 am LT
The journey to Houston was longer than I expected, but at the end I arrived there safely. I am not mad or upset with Continental, technical faults do happen. The service on board was great, the seats were fantastic in my opinion. The ground staff at Heathrow tried to be as helpful as they could be. I find no point in being angry or mad at them as it was not their personal fault that the plane had a technical issue. And I was surprised that most of the other PAX acted in the same way, they were very calm.
So this is the end of my third trip report, if you want to read about my A380 adventure you can get it here
, my second trip report about Adria Airways new A319 can be found here
Thank you for taking the time to read my report and I look forward to any comments.